The Operating Theater
Chancing upon this album was something pleasantly unexpected. Last I heard of Brian Dewan, electric zitherist, was a couple of Hello Club EPs, sometime in the mid-’90s.
Apparently, Dewan has kept active, as this collection of mature songs — a dozen total — show an amazing clarity of style, a sound that is part Renaissance fair, part sepiatoned memories. The instrumentation contributes greatly towards that throwback sound, and even when the zither is blasted with distortion, as in “Loathsome Idols,” the results are still post-throwback, a la Jethro Tull. On top of this oddly-shaped bed, Dewan’s words and voice ride like a gentle memory, travelling back not in history but in life, reminding me of the seriousness of grade school and its illusory innocence, what with “Solomon Grundy” and “Rumpelstiltskin,” the latter a careful recounting of the children’s tale.
Dewan’s music falls squarely in the realm of music you grow into. The crafty songwriting at work is soon louder than whatever unconventional sounds you may hear.